Brief history of suvar-bulgars
The off-springs of the ancient Suvar-Bulgars — the modern Chuvash people are the fifth most populous nation in Russia. They live mostly in the Volga Region, where their first in the Eastern Europe middle aged state Volga Bulgaria was situated. To be more exact, it is the territory of modern Samara Oblast, Ulyanovsk Oblast, the Chuvash Republic and some parts of the territories of the Mari El Republic, the Udmurt Republic, the Republic of Bashkortostan and Penza Oblast.
This Part of the Volga Region bounds on the territory, where Finno-Ugric peoples the Mari and the Mordvins live on one side, and on the territory of the Turkic people Tatars and the Slavic people on the other side. According to genetic and linguistic data the culture of the Chuvash (the Suvar-Bulgars) stands apart. Thus it differs as from the culture of the Slavic people and from the culture of Finno-Ugric and Turkic peoples as well.
The names of the peoples, living in the Volga Region are well-known from the earliest times. But as far as the word ‘Chuvash’ is concerned, it appears in the written sources only since the 16th century.
Since a long time ago the scientists have been discussing the question about the origin of the Chuvash people. Various theories were advanced on this problem. Thus the ancestors of the Chuvash people were considered the following nations: the Khazars, the Burtas, the Huns, the Finno-Ugric peoples, the Ancient Avars, the Sumerians, the Volga Suvar-Bulgars and so on.
The modern Chuvashes have much in common with them, but they don’t concern to any group as for example the Finno-Ugric peoples (the Mari, the Mordvins, the Udmurts). The modern linguists refer the Chuvash people to the Turkic peoples but the Chuvash language differs greatly from other Turkic languages. Although those, speaking Tatar, Bashkir, Kazakh, Uzbek and some other languages, can understand each other without any difficulties. The Chuvash language stands apart from other Turkic languages and is referred to the Bulgar group as the Suvar-Bulgar language itself.
The results of the latest investigations in contemporary turkology prove, that Ancient Bulgar and modern Chuvash are sister languages as far as their grammar, phonetics and vocabulary are concerned. Both of them have the Proto-Turkic language in their origin. Since the third millennium BC the Proto-Turkic language began to break up into separate Turkic languages. As for the Bulgar language, it appeared earlier than the Common Turkic languages.
The inscriptions on the 13-14th centuries tombstones, found in Volga Bulgaria, prove the fact, that the Chu-
vash language belongs to the Bulgar language. It is the modern Chuvash language, that helped the linguists to decipher the inscriptions.
The ancient religion of the Suvar-Bulgars, traditions and holidays connected with it were in close relations with the Agricultural cycles.
The Suvar-Bulgars’ religion is a system of outlooks, the essence of which is the belief in the existence of one god. It appeared thousands of years ago and is closely connected with the religions of ancient peoples of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Caucasus, Black Sea region, the Volga region, Western Asia, Central Asia, India and Iran — the countries, where the Suvar-Bulgars lived in earlier times and came in contacts with the natives. The cultures of the peoples mixed, and that is why the religion of Suvar-Bulgars is very close to the religion of the peoples, living in these countries.
The following world monotheistic religions as Christianity, Islam and Judaism were prevailing religions in the leading countries of the world. And as far as the other countries are concerned, their ethnic religions were called ‘Paganism’ by the representatives of the above mentioned religions. For the peoples, getting the monotheistic religions, their former ethnic traditions and ceremonials were forbidden. This was the reason of the fact, that the natives forgot their ancient religions. If we investigate the etymology of the russian word ‘язычество’ (the English for ‘paganism’), we’ll see that it came from the Old Church Slavonic ‘иазыцы’ (the English for ‘peoples’) and didn’t have any negative meaning. But later on the meaning of the word changed and became negative.
We should also mention about the term ‘Chuvash’. According to ‘The Explanatory Dictionary of the Living Great Russian Language’ by V. I. Dal this word had a negative meaning. The word was used since the 16th century by Tsarist officers and missionaries. And as far as our days are concerned, we prefer to use the term ‘Suvar-Bulgars’ instead of ‘Chuvashes’. The essence of Suvar-Bulgars’ religion is dualism, which means the conflict between good and evil. And it is the Man who must be active in this conflict. From this point of view it resembles Zoroastrianism. The embodiment of the good is God (Турă [ˈturʌ]), the supernatural creator and overseer of humans and the universe. He has plenty of assistants — good spirits. The authority of God is so great that he is also called ’One God’ (Пĕр Турă [ˈper ˈturʌ]).
The ancestor worship cult was an important part of the belief system of the Suvar-Bulgars. They believed, that the spirits of the ancestors (Ваттисем [ˌvʌti'sem]) are the link between the alive (Ку Тĕнче ['ku ten'tʃe]) and the dead (Леш Тĕнче ['leʃ ten'tʃe]). The Suvar-Bulgars also honored the elements of Water, Fire, Air, Earth, Stars and other natural forces.
But Suvar-Bulgars’ religion was monotheistic, as numerous spirits and mythical creatures were never called God. They were only the creation of God. And as far as the Universe is concerned, Suvar-Bulgars thought of it as of the world cosmic ocean, in which three-level world (виçĕ хутлă Тĕнче ['vistʃe 'hutlə ten'tʃe]) was situated.
The Upper World (Çÿлти Тĕнче [stʃul'ti ten'tʃe]) is in the sky (пĕлĕт ['pælet]). It consists of three, seven or nine layers, on which the God (Турă ['turʌ]), kind spirits, the spirits of the guiltless dead, the spirits of the children, which are to be born and also the Luminaries — the Sun, the Moon, stars and cosmic bodies are situated.
The Light (Middle) World (Çут (Варринчи) Тĕнче ['stʃut ˌvʌrin'tʃi ten'tʃe]) is located on the horizontal solid land (çĕр хытти ['stʃer hi'ti]), where in the vegetable world and water spaces people and animals as well as kind and evil creatures live. In the centre of it there is the ver-
tical World Mount, which is considered to be the centre of the world, where all its axes cross, binding the four angles and the four sides of the Universe. On the top of it the World Tree (the Tree of Life) (Ама йывăç [ʌ'ma: 'jivəstʃ]) grows joining The Upper World, the Middle World and the Lower World (Аялти Тĕнче [ˌa:jʌl'ti ten'tʃe]) together. The Tree is an analogue of the Sacred Tree in the ancient Sumerian city of Eridu from the legend dating back to the third millennium BC. The crown of the Tree reaches the Upper World, the roots stretch to the Lower World, the branches support the firmament.
The Lower World is (Аялти Тĕнче [ˌa:jʌl'ti ten'tʃe]) situated under the ground. It consists of three or seven layers, where chaos and darkness reign. Mythical monsters, evil spirits and sinful souls inhabit the bottom layers of it.
The Inhabitants of the Upper World live for ever, those living in the Middle World are mortal and the Lower World is the World of the dead.
From the point of view of Suvar- Bulgars there was originally nothing around — pitch darkness and void (хусканусăр пушă пăч тĕттĕм — Тем ['huskʌ'nuser 'puʃe 'pʌtʃ 'tetəm — 'tem]) reigned everywhere. Inside the void there was the God — the Creator of all. Then He created space around himself, made the first movement and created the fist substance in the universe chaos — the Mount (ту ['tu:]), the Sun (ра ['ra:]), the Fire, the Water, the Earth, the Sky, plants, animals, the Man; visible (material) world and invisible (spiritual) world. While creating the world the God was helped by the kind assistants, He had created by himself, but there were evil spirits and creatures, which made him harm without his knowledge.
The Verb ‘ту‘ has at least five meanings: to create, to impregnate, to bear, to build and to perform. The word ‘Ту ырă‘ means ‘to do good‘ The word ‘Ту ра‘ means ‘to create the Sun‘. The God is everywhere, in everything He has created. That is why there is no icon of God, but there are symbols and signs of God (Турă палли ['turə pʌ'li:]) which are to be honoured.
Since the ancient times Suvar- Bulgars depicted the God’s creations: the Tree of Life, the Sun, the Moon, the Sky, stars, mountains, fire, water, animal and vegetal life, mythological creatures and many other things on their numerous handicrafts made from gold, silver, copper, bronze, iron, ivory; on the clothes, headwear, houseware, buildings, poles and tombstones.
All of them had magical meaning in Suvar-Bulgars’ everyday life, many of them were the Symbols of the God (Турă палли ['turə pʌ'li:]) and the objects of their devotion. Such symbols were also depicted on the weapon to defend the warrior from the enemies. Different things with the images-symbols were the charms, and the Suvar-Bulgars wore them against evil spirits. These charms made them harmonious with the environment: in the forest, in the field, on the bank of the river, at home and far from the native land. They were worn to ensure the rich harvest and the successful hunt. They were worn during the whole life.
In thousands of years the Suvar- Bulgars’ religion was put a severe test and centuries-old vexations upon it. It was influenced by the cultures of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Caucasus, Black Sea region, Volga region, Western Asia, Central Asia, India and Iran. In spite of it the Suvar-Bulgars saved their nation. They could do it due to their solidarity, careful attitude towards the cultural traditions, and their ethnic religion.
Ювенальев Ю. Ю., Ювенальев С. Ю. Культура суваро-булгар. Этническая религия и мифологические представления. — Чебоксары, 2013. — С. 9—11.